WSJ blames News Corp critics, confuses phone hacking with WikiLeaks revelations
Emily Badger: WSJ blames News Corp critics, confuses phone hacking with WikiLeaks revelations
18 Jul 11

The Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal has published a bitter editorial methodically swiping at News Corps’ critics (in this order: “our competitors,” “British politicians now bemoaning media influence over politics”,  the BBC, the Guardian, British and American publications that don’t defend defamation claims in Singapore, the news non-profit ProPublica, the Bancroft family that formerly owned Dow Jones, US Attorney General Eric Holder, US officials prosecuting Haitian and Polish foreign bribery cases, “the liberal press” and, more specifically, the New York Times). And then there is this:

“We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur. They want their readers to believe, based on no evidence, that the tabloid excesses of one publication somehow tarnish thousands of other News Corp journalists across the world.”

In casually trying to draw a moral equivalency (or, rather, an immoral equivalency) between illegally hacking a murdered girl’s phone for newspaper scoops — and allegedly bribing public officials to keep the tactic under wraps — and working with WikiLeaks to vet leaked government documents for context relevant to the public’s understanding of the execution of two wars and US foreign diplomacy, the Journal stretches credulity one non sequitur too far.

Never mind that the Journal editorial page has for months been calling for the prosecution of Julian Assange even as its news pages have been covering the stories WikiLeaks helped make possible. Or that this implication suggests the Journal has never knowingly published journalism originating from leaked classified government information. The Journal’s plea to the sensibilities of its readers must also leave them to assume this: If the paper is willing to lash out at News Corp critics in ways that even Rupert Murdoch himself has not, perhaps the Wall Street Journal is not so far removed from the culture of its imploding parent company as the editorial’s subhed — “A tabloid’s excesses don’t tarnish thousands of other journalists” — suggests.